Robert De Niro reveals pitching late Ray Liotta to Martin Scorsese for Henry Hill role in Goodfellas


Robert De Niro reveals pitching late Ray Liotta to Martin Scorsese for Henry Hill role in Goodfellas

Robert De Niro revealed that he pitched the Ray Liotta to director Martin Scorsese for Goodfellas on Tuesday’s episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Show host Colbert, 58, asked De Niro, 78, if it was true that he had been a ‘real booster’ for the late actor who died on May 26 in the Dominican Republic at age 66.

De Niro  said he didn’t know if his suggestion had any bearing on Ray ultimately getting the part to play Henry Hill in Goodfellas.

Late co-star: Robert De Niro revealed that he pitched the Ray Liotta to director Martin Scorsese for Goodfellas on Tuesday's episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Late co-star: Robert De Niro revealed that he pitched the Ray Liotta to director Martin Scorsese for Goodfellas on Tuesday’s episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

‘I told Marty (Scorsese) I saw him in the Jonathan Demme film [Something Wild],’ De Niro said. ‘I said ”This guy, you should look at him, he’s terrific in the movie.” How much that was an influence on Marty, I don’t know, but that’s what I said.’

‘He just had a great quality,’ he added of his late co-star. ‘ He was right for the part if you want to cast it that way. Marty had seen people, I don’t know who, but I know he went through everybody, and chose Ray so that was great.’

Colbert asked De Niro who was on the show to promote the opening of the Tribeca Film Festival, if he was sleeping any better at night now that Joe Biden was president.

‘Yes,’ De Niro said laughing. ‘He got us into calm waters that was always the idea. He’s doing a very good job. It’s a tough one. I couldn’t imagine. I could imagine how difficult it is. I have decisions in my own personal life, but I imagine what he goes through is 100 times that. No, he is doing the best he can and we have got to get through a bad period. Period.’

Mob movie: De Niro and the late Ray Liotta are shown in a still from the 1990 crime film Goodfellas directed by Martin Scorsese

Mob movie: De Niro and the late Ray Liotta are shown in a still from the 1990 crime film Goodfellas directed by Martin Scorsese 

Hollywood star: Liotta, shown in September 2021 in New York City, died last month in the Dominican Republic at age 66

Hollywood star: Liotta, shown in September 2021 in New York City, died last month in the Dominican Republic at age 66

Colbert asked the Hollywood legend what advice he would have liked to have gotten early on.

‘You can’t give advice,’ De Niro said. ‘At the end of the day, you are out there on your own.’

‘I tell any actor, and I tell my own kids this, that if you’re reading for something just assume you are not going to get the part and that will free you if anything,’ De Niro said. ‘That will free you to make a bolder choice maybe. And what will happen, it’s more important than the director watching you do the reading. It’s the casting director because they work with directors all the time. So if they see you do something that is kind of interesting and bold they’ll tell the director of another film project they are working on.’

Sage advice: 'You can't give advice,' De Niro said. 'At the end of the day, you are out there on your own.'

Sage advice: ‘You can’t give advice,’ De Niro said. ‘At the end of the day, you are out there on your own.’

De Niro said early on in his career he had read for parts over and over again that he didn’t get.

‘At the end of the day I wasn’t quite right no matter how you sliced it so they got somebody with a name value and that’s understandable,’ he said.

‘I always felt very optimistic, I don’t know why,’ De Niro said of acting.

Early rejection: De Niro said early on in his career he had read for parts over and over again that he didn't get

Early rejection: De Niro said early on in his career he had read for parts over and over again that he didn’t get

With the 21st season of the Tribeca Film Festival starting on Wednesday, Stephen asked him if he had any sense then that it would become a major film festival.

‘No, we just did it that year, we didn’t know where it would go after that,’ De Niro said.

De Niro said the initial idea was to help revitalize downtown. He said one of the highlights of this year’s festival was that they were going to have a ‘Heat’ reunion with former co-stars Al Pacino and Michael Mann. Stephen asked him what he remembered about making the movie.

Heat reunion: The Tribeca Film Festival founder said one of the  highlights of this year's festival was that they were going to have a 'Heat' reunion

Heat reunion: The Tribeca Film Festival founder said one of the  highlights of this year’s festival was that they were going to have a ‘Heat’ reunion

‘It was hard work,’ De Niro said. ‘Michael Mann is a guy who really is a stickler for detail for certain things. He would have you do certain things more and more than say the normal.’

De Niro said, though, that he knew there was something special with what Mann was trying to do.

Colbert asked him what he wanted from a director.

Real stickler: 'It was hard work,' De Niro said. 'Michael Mann is a guy who really is a stickler for detail for certain things. He would have you do certain things more and more than say the normal'

Real stickler: ‘It was hard work,’ De Niro said. ‘Michael Mann is a guy who really is a stickler for detail for certain things. He would have you do certain things more and more than say the normal’

Good question: Colbert asked him what he wanted from a director

Good question: Colbert asked him what he wanted from a director

‘You do it a few ways and then they just decide,’ De Niro said. ‘I say ‘you see what really works in the editing.’ It’s that simple.’

Stephen asked if there was a co-star he most enjoyed working with.

‘I enjoyed working with Michel Pfieffer a lot,’ De Niro said. ‘I only worked twice with her but I enjoyed it a lot when we worked together. She was terrific.’

Colbert asked if he ever thought of himself as a sex symbol.

‘No,’ said De Niro, but then the audience applauded loudly when Colbert asked if they thought that he was one.

Looking sharp: The Hollywood legend looked sharp while arriving at the talk show studio

Looking sharp: The Hollywood legend looked sharp while arriving at the talk show studio

Festival founder: De Niro founded the Tribeca Film Festival in 2002

Fan favorite: The fan favorite acknowledged his supporters

Festival founder: De Niro founded the Tribeca Film Festival in 2002

Heat reunion: De Niro was shielded from the rain by umbrellas upon arrival

Heat reunion: De Niro was shielded from the rain by umbrellas upon arrival

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